Need a little help taking charge of your health and happiness?

Health Keeping with a GO BAG-Get Motivated

health keeping with a go bag Sep 30, 2023

Got Your GO BAG ready?

September is National Preparedness Month.

Get Motivated, Inspired, and Activate!


Here is your pop quiz: Friday Night Surprise, a trip to the ER!

It’s Friday midday and you get a phone message from your primary care practitioner that you must go to the Emergency Room by 5 PM!

Your lab work tested positive for an infection with drug resistant bacteria and must be treated right away! Your car is in the shop, you have a cat and a dog that need care, and you have no idea how long you will be gone.

What do you do first?

What do you pack?

What do you need to know?

How will you verify that information?

Who do you call for assistance?

Preparedness for emergencies includes unexpected Health Emergencies as well as natural disasters.

Got Your GO BAG and Emergency PLAN in place?

Health Keeping includes Emergency Preparedness for unexpected Health events or staying safe in natural disasters. 


Health Keeping with Emergency Preparedness-Get motivated

Here is a personal story of how a close call with a natural disaster amplified and INSPIRED us to remember to put Preparedness on the PRIORITY list.  

Breaking News on 8/9/23 at 9:30 AM, Pacific Time: Maui is burning and Dora, a category 4 Hurricane is approaching the Hawaiian Islands.

News bulletins were popping up all over the internet on that warm, breezy, August morning. My first thoughts were of family and friends who live on the Big Island of Hawaii and Lanai. I quickly sent an email to friends and checked in with family to learn they were safe and in no danger. Still, a sense of shock swept over me as I watched news videos of the tragic INFERNO consuming Maui’s historic town of Lahaina.

Soon, about noon, we began hearing local sirens and a familiar acrid smell began to fill the air. We live in the mountain area of San Diego, where wildfire is the most prominent risk of living in this part of paradise. A quick check of the view outside confirmed our senses. A billowing plume of smoke was visible in the vicinity. Our Watch Duty Apps began pinging our phones with alerts at 12:08 pm. The first report stated that a 10-acre fire was located 6 miles from us.

A wave of alarm swept through the house as we compared information from our various Emergency apps and California Alert camera websites.  By 1:17 pm the first Evacuation orders came with news that the fire had grown from 10 to 103 acres with no containment. We were close to the Evacuation zone but still outside the pending Evacuation area.

A sense of dissonance set in between the surreal realities on Maui and now the tangible possibility of being in a fire zone at home. We had been evacuated before during other major wildfires, so it was triggering our gut and limbic systems. Nearby residents were exhibiting signs of panic, because they owned elderly horses but had no horse trailer to move them.

We knew we had to begin preparing for possible evacuation orders and yet, did not want to cause panic in the children nor each other. We had the luxury of time and reliable up-to-the-minute information, so we could calmly prepare.

We began gathering and placing our GO BAGs and vital documents by the front door and got busy charging extra cell phone batteries. Next, we divided up tasks of guiding children to pack their essentials and preparing animals. I packed up containers of water, bagged up dog and cat food, and found the cat carriers. We dreaded getting the cats into their carriers too soon.

The children were activated and began evaluating what was essential and irreplaceable to them. The youngest felt it imperative that he take his roller skates and cowboy hat along with his comfort blanket and nighttime cuddle toys. Backpacks and supplies began filling the back of our vehicles, while tension began to build in our neck and shoulders.

Subsequent Watch Duty and San Diego Emergency reports showed that the fire was currently moving away from us while nearly doubling its size by 1:45 PM. FlightRadar24 showed CalFire Aircraft present and we heard them circling to drop borate. By 4 PM the fire was 0% contained and now we were in the pending Evacuation zone. By 5 PM Sheriff’s Deputies drove up and down our streets with bullhorns blaring and announcing it was time to evacuate. We began final loading and rounding up of cats, but just before we could load the cats, we were notified the fire was now 20% contained, with forward spread stopped and pending evacuation zones cleared to stay put.   

We were lucky. We felt relieved and grateful for the recent competence demonstrated by the local CAL FIRE and the San Diego Emergency system. Several serious, prior fire-storms motivated the San Diego region to take responsibility for improving preparedness and inter-agency cooperation.

Three key factors to take away and questions to ask from this story:

  1.  Awareness of potential threats can Motivate Preparedness
    • How do I motivate myself and others in my network to get Prepared?
    • What are the specific potential emergencies in my local area?
  2.  Invest in Education and Periodic Review of your Preparedness PLAN and Supplies
    • What needs updating in my Physical and Mindset preparations?
    • What resources and network of people are essential in my Planning?
  3.  Resilience: Understand Stress-responses and Build Mindfulness skills
    • What are normal Stress Responses that occur during Emergencies?
    • How can I build resilience with a balance of inner calm while maintaining the Ability to Respond appropriately, moment by moment?

Awareness and Motivation: The Lahaina, Maui fire presented a surprising and stark example of the difference between Preparedness and Home Readiness and the unprepared. A 100-year-old home on Front Street in Lahaina, stood unharmed by flames, though it was surrounded by only the ashen remains of incinerated homes. (Do your own search of the internet for this story) Know yourself: What motivates YOU to get activated for preparedness?

Invest in Education and Periodic Review of Preparedness PLAN and Supplies:  At home in San Diego, 10 days after the Maui fire, a CAL FIRE officer visited our home with pamphlets and excellent, practical tips on what would make our home more fire safe and defensible. The images of the 100-year-old home on Maui amplified the wisdom of the details in this personal visit by an experienced Fire Fighter.

CAL FIRE and other agencies have Preparedness Planning resources. Human Habitat has a homeowner guide. The US Government has:  Emergency GO BAG and Kits reference.

Check your local agencies to identify local hazards in your region. California Hazards

Resilience: Understand Stress-responses and Situational Awareness, Build Mindfulness skills

When unexpected emergencies occur, it is common for individuals to be in a state of disbelief or to shift into panic.

Practicing Stress Management, Situational Awareness, and Mindfulness skills helps create more resilience and improves the ability to be “Able to Respond” rather than simply react in any stressful moment. Even though practice develops more ability to stay responsive, the presence of stress decreases the bandwidth of normal thinking.  Educating yourself about stress responses and situational awareness can give you more self-compassion and expand your ability to understand anyone who begins to panic. Staying calm is relative to each circumstance and set of people and dangers involved.

Situational Awareness is based in a mindset that promotes ability to be present with one’s internal senses while observing and comprehending meaning in external surroundings. Stress brings extra challenges and limitations to brain function. Understanding the basic mechanisms of stress responses can give a helpful context to behaviors in emergencies. Dr. Bruce Perry educates communities regarding stress responses.

State Dependent Brain Function is a concept developed by  Dr. Bruce Perry that helps us understand how humans behave in stressful situations. The level of stress a person experiences determines what part of the brain is available for thinking and remembering information. When calm conditions prevail, the brain has full capacity available. However, when anxiety occurs, the Limbic system is dominant, which reduces thinking capacity. When primal fear (terror) occurs, the Brain Stem becomes dominant, and thinking can be as low as 60% of normal function. Dr Perry and Oprah Winfrey wrote the book,  “What Happened to You?” to help explain this concept.

Keep a realistic perspective and be compassionate with yourself and others in emergencies.

When making a good Emergency PLAN, be sure to write down basic information like home address and phone number, names and contact numbers of important people, and make lists of vital items to gather like Medications and certain documents. Even though it seems obvious in the calm state of planning, when a threat is present, our ability to recall is diminished. Have your basic information sheet prepared and easy to find.

Wildfires, storms, and severe earthquake disasters have made the news more frequently in the past few years. The pandemic highlighted the reality of Personal health disasters like heart attack, stroke, or breathing problems. We never have prior notice of surprise crisis events, but intellectually we know the value of preparedness. 

In Summary: How Ready are You?

Do You have your GO BAG and Emergency PLAN in place?

Is it time to update your PLAN, network of people, skills, or supplies?

What are the likely emergencies you might face? 

Remember, Preparedness and Resilience require conscious effort and periodic review.

Check and Review your Health Keeping Emergency Preparedness status.

Stay Safe and Resilient!  

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.